Warts on the human body are no fun. They can creep up in just about any part of you, come in a large range of sizes, and can be unsightly and downright irritating. When you’ve got a wart, you normally aren’t really excited about keeping it around. Many methods exist that help you get rid of it, through a variety of ways. Sometimes, this leads to your wart falling off. Other times, the wart may just fall off completely on its own and out of the blue. How does this happen? What in the world makes a wart fall off?
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What Makes A Wart Fall Off?
Let’s first look at what makes a wart appear.
HPV is the virus behind every wart in the human body. It gets into your skin through tiny breaks and invades its upper layers, finally activating and causing a rapid growth of skin cells that turns into a wart. And these are tough little things; warts don’t like to budge, and will grow back if even a tiny piece of them are left alive and untouched beneath the skin. They can be hard to get rid of. But not impossible, not in the slightest.
Warts usually die on their own if left untouched, but that usually takes years, and then you have to worry about it accidentally spreading to other areas, which it can do. Most opt for treatment to get rid of their warts.
Available options to kill a wart include:
- Surgical excision, or the act of cutting the wart out of the skin. (read here)
- Cryotherapy, when your wart is frozen off using liquid nitrogen. (read here)
- Topical treatments, like trichloroacetic acid or salicylic acid, agents that slowly burn the wart tissue away.
- Laser therapy, using a high focused light beam to burn away the wart. (read here)
- Electrocautery, which is the act of using electricity to burn away all wart tissue. (read here)
There will be different consequences for each method of removal. With surgical excision, for example, a hole will be cut out of the skin where the wart used to be. Cryotherapy will leave a large blister. If the wart dies on its own and falls off, there could be various results.
Sometimes when you have a wart, you can be scared that they’ll be sticking around forever. If you’re asking yourself “Do warts go away?” you can find answers here.
How to identify a dead wart
Once your wart dies, whether on its own or from a procedure, it will change in appearance. The trick is to be able to know when it’s for sure dead. Untreated warts might seem dead, when in fact they’re still perfectly alive. When you’re doing salicylic acid treatments, it might be hard to know if the entire wart is killed, or if there’s living layers still underneath.
When you use topical creams, gels, or ointments, the process of killing the wart can be a slow one. The active ingredients slowly burn away living tissue, whether it’s normal healthy skin or it’s a wart. The acid will eat at the tissue from the top down, slowly killing it layer by layer until the wart can no longer sustain itself. Watch for the signs of wart death to make sure it’s fully killed.
Look for these telltale signs of a dead wart:
- Color: A living wart will be flesh-colored, pink, brownish, and even slightly red. When a wart dies, it will usually turn black. This is a result of the tissue dying and beginning to decompose.
- Texture: Warts that are still alive will usually be smooth, with some having a cauliflower-type surface. A dead wart will often be more rough and sometimes scab over.
- Attachment: Living warts are firmly set into the skin and aren’t going to budge whatsoever. Dead warts will become loose as they detach from the surrounding healthy skin tissue. It may fall out all at once, or come off in pieces.
- Sensation: Dead warts tend to have more sensation than living ones, getting itchy as they die and begin to detach. This can be especially annoying in the case of genital warts.
In the case of plantar warts, it can sometimes be trickier to tell. There are oftentimes black dots in the middle of the wart that sometimes make people think it’s the wart dying. These are actually coagulated blood vessels and a normal part of a living, healthy wart. It is only when the entire wart turns dark and begins to come loose that you know it’s dying.
Your skin has a natural healing ability to it, and often will heal injuries with nothing left behind. But often, it leaves a scar. Find more details about wart scar here.
The Next Step After Your Wart Falls Off
Once the glorious moment comes when your wart is gone, whether through treatment or falling off on its own, you may be left with a hole in your skin. Sometimes this hole is deep. However far it goes, your body will fill this in with new skin tissue. Although, be warned that any kind of disturbance in the skin carries the risk of scarring. The deeper the hole, the higher the chance there will be a scar left behind.
When there’s a blister involved as is sometimes the case with cryotherapy, don’t touch it. If you pop the blister, you can spread the viral particles inside the blister all around the skin and cause new warts to form. The blister will disappear over a short amount of time and the wart leftover underneath will come off. If no blister forms, the wart will turn black and shortly slough or fall off. There can be an indent in the skin or even fresh, smooth skin.
Be careful with the area for a time, as it can be more sensitive and still healing. You may want to cover it with a light band aid and avoid direct contact with harsh products.
Am I Still Contagious?
First, you have to know if the wart is truly dead. If any part of the wart is still living, then yes, you’ll be contagious. If the wart is dead and falling off but still attached to the skin, there is a continued small chance that some viral particles are persisting in the area. However, once the wart falls off and the skin begins to heal, the contagious period is over.
Try and avoid contact with other people’s skin during the time that your wart is dying. It will still contain viral particles during the process of death, which means you can transmit them to others. For example, shaking hands with someone when you’ve got an exposed wart that’s dying and coming dislodged carries a chance that you’ll transmit it to them. Keep it covered with a light bandage to help prevent this.
There is an exception to this, as genital warts will always be contagious. Even when no warts are present, the strain of HPV that causes them lays underneath the surface and will easily spread to another person’s skin during sexual contact. Always remember that you can transmit them to a sexual partner even between outbreaks.
Warts are annoying for several reasons, one being that they can spread from one place to another, and one person to another. So are warts contagious? Learn more about the question by clicking here.
So if you’ve got a wart you think is dead, now you know what to expect for when it falls off. It’s not too complicated and is an awesome last good riddance to the plaguing growths we hate.
You can find further details of Warts here.